5 Jun 2002

Two Fiji coup accomplices plead not guilty to treason charges

5:16 am on 5 June 2002

Fiji coup accomplices Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu have pleaded not guilty to treason charges in the Suva high court.

The plea came after Judge Andrew Wilson rejected their lawyer's claim that the treason charge did not exist in Fiji laws and the appeal court refused to review the decision while the case was still before the high court.

The prosecution has reduced the number of overt acts of treason involved from 13 to 7 and the number of witnesses from 200 to 20.

State lawyer Gerard McCoy said the state would provide video evidence to show that the two accused participated in the swearing in of the failed Speight administration.

In the swearing in, Silatolu was appointed prime minister and Nata the secretary to the administration.

An overseas expert is to be flown in to determine Nata's signature on several decrees that were drafted.

The ousted prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, and several of his ministers who were held hostage wil also give evidence.

The case will be heard in chambers in a week when details of the trial will be determined.